For many parents, letting their children play on the equipment at a playground can be a wonderful event.
However, as with most activities involving young children, caution should always be observed to ensure their safety.
Each year, more than 200,000 children worldwide find their way to hospitals seeking treatment for everything from burns to broken bones.
But with a little common sense and paying attention to playground rules, both parents and their children can have a wonderful time climbing on the monkey bars or swinging high in the air on a swing set.
Inspect the Playground
Before turning your kids loose, it’s always important for parents to take a quick look at the playground and its equipment.
The best playgrounds use a variety of materials to create soft surfaces in case kids take a tumble, with some of the most popular materials being sand, wood chips or rubber.
If the kids will be playing on monkey bars, it’s a good idea to make sure the bars on them are far enough apart to keep the kids from getting stuck in them.
Most playground safety experts put the guidelines for this at between 3-9 inches, which will accommodate children of various sizes.
Look for damaged equipment
It also makes sense for parents to look closely at the equipment their kids will be playing on before giving them the green light to go have fun.
Making sure there are no loose screws, split boards or corners that are sharp and rusty will help to make sure the playtime experience is filled with fun.
Any playground equipment that has this should be avoided and then reported to the school or other agency that oversees the playground.
Beware of hot surfaces
Spending time at a playground on a summer day can be a great family outing, but while there it’s a good idea to be aware of the temperature of the equipment.
Many kids have a tendency to run toward a slide, climb it and slide down before you know what happened.
However, on hot summer days slides and other equipment can reach temperatures that can cause burns to youngsters.
While metal surfaces usually get the hottest, some plastic surfaces can also reach dangerous temperatures.
Wearing appropriate clothing
Kids who want to run and jump and climb don’t think about the clothing they are wearing at the time, but their parents definitely should.
Too often there are stories of children wearing hoodies or jackets that have strings that get tangled up in monkey bars or other playground equipment, sometimes causing strangulation or other injuries.
Most experts also recommend having kids wear only closed-toed shoes to protect their feet while playing.
Children who are allowed to play barefoot or wearing loose-fitting sandals or thongs can often be hurt by slipping or can get broken toes or feet from having their feet hit against the hard surfaces of the equipment.
At what age can kids play by themselves?
This is always a difficult question to answer, since no two kids are exactly alike in terms of maturity and physical development.
However, most child safety experts recommend that parents only let children who are age six or older to play with limited or no adult supervision.
Most kids who are this age are able to comprehend and follow playground rules and have a general understanding of their limitations when climbing, allowing them to play in a safe manner.
By observing rules and paying attention to details, both parents and kids can have a great time at a playground while enjoying lots of quality family time together.
Do you always check the playground out before letting your kids run off to play?